My first climb for the year took me to one of Bataan’s highest points. Tarak left me with two things.
First, like a wordplay, I now understand how it got its name. The initial portion of the climb involves the usual wide trails through grasslands and flatlands. Three hours into this type of trek, you will reach the Papaya River where you break for lunch and the last water source. The second leg of the mountain’s assault leads to an exciting and almost two-hour cardiac trail. Steep and covered, you may need to hold on to branches and roots and climb using all four limbs for support. In two hours, you will arrive at the ridge where you will have a fantastic panoramic view at 1,006 MASL. Groups can choose to camp at an enclosed area before the ridge (which can accommodate roughly ten tents) or at the wider and open area at the ridge itself.
This brings me to my next Tarak lesson.
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And I thought guides are supposed to know and lead the way. Up until this climb.
An ambitious dayhike traverse from the Magalang to Arayat trails ended on a rather mischievous note as we learned from the lead pack that our juvenile brothers from Brgy. Ayala on the Magalang side seemed to have lost the trail while already at the foot of Mt. Arayat.
Nevertheless, our group of nearly 25 reached Brgy. Baño at the Arayat side in under ten hours.
Through established trails to the North Peak, we traversed through an exciting ridgeline to the South Peak and continued on to a dense hunter’s trail until we got to the base of the mountain. The descent becomes a test of patience as one negotiates aimlessly through paths covered with trees, vines and roots.
It took the group only three hours to reach the first peak where one finds a communication tower and an army detachment. The peak, at 1,026 MASL, has a campsite and a great view of the flat agricultural lands of Pampanga. The Pampanga river can be seen snaking through the rice fields. After a half-hour lunch break, we resumed the climb. The trek to the second peak (1,008 MASL) takes only about two hours. We passed by White Rock before reaching the southern peak where we stopped for the customary photo ops. It then progresses to a three- to four-hour descent via the Arayat trail.
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Thank You, Lord, for the endless blessings and the sheer joy of my being in this world: treading, enjoying and wandering. I have had my tests of faith and physical limits; but You are always there when I start to think it all ends.
“Above all else, know this: Be prepared at all times for the gifts of God and be ready always for new ones. For God is a thousand times more ready to give than we are to receive.” – Meister Eckhart